While Scottie Barnes and OG Anunoby are among the best players on the Toronto Raptors roster and standout two-way performers, head coach Darko Rajakovic has often found it challenging to get the most out of those two in the same lineup while also keeping Pascal Siakam consistently engaged on offense.
To give Rajakovic some credit, he has tried his best to experiment with different lineups in the hope of igniting some sort of spark. So far, one of the more intriguing moves has been throwing Otto Porter Jr. back into the line of fire after some very poor play from Jalen McDaniels.
Porter not only can shoot well, but he also holds his own as a defender. The Raptors’ ability to go small without sacrificing too much length and size could make for some exciting lineups, especially if Porter is on the floor and Jakob Poeltl is not.
The Raptors have deployed a small-ball lineup that features Siakam as the center, Porter and Barnes as the forwards, and Anunoby and Dennis Schroder in the backcourt quite often. Per Cleaning The Glass (subscription required), the Raptors are averaging 29.4 points per 100 possessions more with this lineup on the floor, with the offensive boost particularly noteworthy.
Toronto Raptors’ small-ball lineup must be used more.
While it is unreasonable to completely eschew Poeltl, given both the price Toronto paid to acquire and his use as a monstrous paint protector against the many great centers that are emerging in this league, having a non-shooter like him on the floor can limit what Rajakovic can do with this offense.
With Siakam proving to be a mismatch for centers that drift away from the paint, Barnes and Anunoby will have more space to create on the perimeter. Porter may not be what he once was, but he is still a deadly shooter on a team that is in dire need of more like him.
The Raptors have closed games with Porter on the floor recently, as he can hold his own as a defender and help with what has become a pitiful lack of spacing. Rajakovic may have thrown him as a roll of the dice looking for more shooting or as an upgrade over Jalen McDaniels, but he has quickly become indispensable to Toronto’s cause.
Poeltl will close most games, and the Raptors shouldn’t go too far away from him, but Porter has been a revelation, and Rajakovic needs to reward him with more minutes.